Since our last holiday was to Cornwall two years ago and since then we’ve moved several times and started different new jobs, it definitely seemed like it was time for me and Frazer to go on holiday this month and Paris was somewhere we settled on very quickly. I’d been there a couple of times before and loved it whereas he had only been on a whirlwind day trip and wasn’t convinced by it so I made it my mission to make him love the city of love.
And it worked! Once we got past the grey, graffiti-plagued streets around Gare du Nord and into the centre, he was soon won over. On our first afternoon, we immediately ate crepes at the Place du Concorde before crossing the river and wandering along to the Musee D’Orsay where we whiled away the next couple of hours. We both loved Van Gogh’s La nuit etoilee the most, but there were lots of amazing surrealist and impressionist paintings there. It was also very cool just to see the old railway station building and the view through the clock face.
Next, we crossed the river again, wandering through the Jardin de Tuileries for the first time of the weekend and along the Champs-Elysees – it’s got to be done, after all. After grabbing a bite to eat, we ended up at the Arc de Triomphe in the early evening as and after the sun set, meaning we got an incredible view of the city lights. We were also entertained for a good while by the traffic chaos at one particular section of the roundabout below.
On Saturday, we got up shortly after 8am and went straight to the Louvre, where we managed to miss the queues for both entrance and the Mona Lisa – who it was extremely cool to see. We then spent the rest of the morning at the museum; the building is fascinating enough by itself, although the Ancient Egyptian section was a clear highlight.
We then headed to the Marais district for lunch at Derriere in a pretty courtyard, although the restaurant inside was incredibly cool too with table tennis, overflowing bookshelves and vintage, mismatched sofas. But most importantly, the gnocchi was the best I’ve ever had and the chocolate mousse was pretty great too.
Next up was a wander around, to the Victor Hugo museum which was a short visit but interesting and totally free, then a sit down in the Place des Vesges, back along to the Centre Pompidou and then west again for a relaxing sit down in the Jardin des Tuileries. Needless to say, the day’s walking was exhausting so after a quick visit to see the night-time view at Sacre-Coeur, it was time to call it a night.
On Sunday, a slight lie-in was replenishing before heading towards Ile de la Cite and Sainte Chappelle, with its beautiful stained glass windows, which actually beat Notre Dame for us. The afternoon was also full of wandering, including around the Ile Saint-Louis, but its highlights were the sagging bridge taken over by love locks and the rickety, characterful bookshop Shakespeare and Company where I felt totally at home. For dinner, we returned to Montmartre for dinner in the Place du Tertre.
For our final day, the focus was on seeing Sacre-Coeur and its view in the daylight and then the Eiffel Tour which, needless to say, was something very special to do together. The last couple of hours before our train saw the only rain of the trip and considering the October heat of the weekend we were incredibly lucky.
My biggest tips for a long weekend in Paris would be not to feel obliged to buy the special Metro passes; if you just take the underground once in each direction per day, it’s not worth it. Maybe just get a book of 10 tickets to share, especially as walking is great! It’s good exercise if you’re eating too many pastries and cheeses, and lets you spot things you never would otherwise.
Also, if you’re under 26 and from the EU make sure you take ID to prove it and you’ll get in free to absolutely loads of the best places. Paris is such an easy city to make the most of over one weekend and is more affordable for young people than you might think.